Chott El-Jerid and Tozeur
Tozeur Travel Blog› entry 5 of 9 › view all entries
December 9th, 2008 – by: Jeroenadmiraal
We left Douz early, because we had a big day ahead. Our destination would be the beautiful and almost legendary oasis town of Tozeur, but the road leading to it would be a sight of its own. You see, in the middle of Tunisia, there is the biggest salt flat of Northern Africa. Cartographers tend to make it a lake, but it hasnt been a real lake since thousands of years (since the thaw of the last ice age, or so). It run dry and salt is all that remains. Years ago, the Tunisian army started the mammoth task of making a heightened road right through the dangerous flat. Dangerous, because of its size and barrenness. Cavarans have been known to disappear in Chott El-Jerid.
But today, we would cross the salt flat in a matter of hours. Again, the landscape is a sight to behold. When you leave civilisation, the trees and finally the shrubs disappear, till there is nothing but hand sand right up to the horizon. Everybody has got to see a desert or a salt flat once in their lives. It makes you feel really small. Expecially this salt flat is a curious one, because it looks like a lake, but it's just salt.
Halfway across, you'll find a few "houses", made of twigs and palm leaves. These are cafe's, and you can buy a souvenir if you've got the stomach to bargain with the inhabitants, because you must. In fact, you can buy a desert rose. Little or big sandlike cristals, found underneath the surface of the salt flat. Practically everybody, and I do mean everybody, in Tunisia sells desert roses, but it is not much fun dragging a huge cristal around, and don't buy a fake painted one.
Later that day, we arrived in Tozeur. The first thing we did, was a tour around the oasis, because the oasis of Tozeur is supposedly the biggest of Tunisia. I didn't really know what a oasis looked like in reality, and I imagined a really cartoony like oasis. You know, a little lake in the sand dunes with a few palm trees around it. It turns out that a real oasis is mostly underground, and has a lot of palm trees on top of it, with little neat roads through them. There's not that much to see really, besides an old guy of about 65 who climbed a palm tree with naked feet. Impressive, but very touristy.
The town itself has its own unique character, which is a rare thing in modern Tunisia. Tozeur is famous for its brickwork. The inhabitants use the bricks to make uncolored geometrical shapes on the walls of their houses. Next to that, Tozeur boasts a very old and well preserved medina, which is difficult to compare with the medinas of other Tunisian cities. It is not so much a busy market, but a block of small, quiet old streets. Another curious thing about Tozeur are the huge arches towering over every street. Im not sure why or what they say, but it's the only place I have ever seen them.
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